As a lot of you may have already checked out earlier in the week, I chatted with Chuck Swirsky on the Raptors and Bulls. He shared some interesting things to say on the Raptors and the feedback I have gotten on interview has been pretty positive. So if you happened to miss it, go give it a listen.
Our reason for talking with Chuck was the match-up tonight with Bulls and Raptors getting together at the ACC for the first time this season. Derrick Rose has been gone for the entire season to this point but despite that the Bulls are a respectable 21-15 thus far in the NBA season. This includes a rather strange circumstance where the Bulls actually have a better road record (10-5) than a home record of (11-10).
The one thing that remains true of the Bulls is they are a very formidable defensive team as they proved in their last game on Monday holding the Hawks to 58 points.
In conversations I had with John Lucas III when he arrived with the Raptors he said that he saw many similarities in Dwane Casey and Tom Thibodeau. Casey since arriving with the Raptors has made defense a priority. It was a similar situation when Thibodeau arrived in Chicago. It led to him taking home a coach of the year award for his results. Things have not been as successful with Raptors but the roster obviously lacks the defensive talent the Bulls had to work with.
When you look at the Raptors playoff chances the Bulls and the eventual return of Derrick Rose could play a significant role down the stretch for the Raptors. On April 9th in Chicago and 3 days later back in Toronto the two teams will conclude their 3 game season series that starts tonight. Obviously a former MVP with the skills of Rose would be a big plus for the Bulls in a match-up with Toronto.
Keeping in with this theme of what lies ahead for Raptors they face the Knicks 4 times and Boston 3 times you add in the two games with the Chicago. That is nine games that the Raptors would be not favoured moving forward. It makes the Raptors playoff chances seem a lot bleaker when you consider that.
Since April 11th 2010 the Bulls have won 7 of the last 8 games against the Raptors. This includes a win in their only trip to Toronto last season. The Raptors are an even .500 against the Bulls in Toronto with 16-16 record all time.
What will be interesting tonight will be the level of health of all the banged up Raptors that includes Jose Calderon, Kyle Lowry and Alan Anderson last night. Add Amir Johnson who has been playing banged up. Will see if all of these guys are able to suit up but even if they do what they will be able to provide in this one. It is safe to assume that none of them will be operating at 100%.
The Raptors are in tough in this one. It would be a surprise if they could pull out a victory in this one.